AAR – Practical Carbine Course
August 19-21, 2010
Practical Shooting as a sport is a great way to keep skill levels high and a targeted mindset for real world engagements. The only drawback is that it becomes a game. If this same approach is taken in the real world, the changing stakes will cause a change in reaction with it. It is good to train this way but it is even more important to take stock as to why we are competing in this manner. Times of duress, such as a defensive reaction to violence, cannot be measured. Each action and reaction is different and unpredictable. The August 19-21, 2010 Practical Carbine Course, located at the Steel City Sports Shooting Association in Hoover, AL, took the competitive aspect of IPSC shooting and added the reality of real world engagements. All instructors at Professional Marksmen Inc. have been in real world shootings in the past and our scenarios were set up based upon the physiological reaction to stress.
The weather was hot and muggy but overall each day went well. SCSSA has some of the finest range facilities in the region and we were very honored to get the chance to teach and shoot there.
Day 1: Classroom Instruction/Static Firing Positions
We began the day off in the classroom where we covered the operation of the tools utilized on the range by focusing on Internal Ballistics, External Ballistics, Terminal Ballistics, and Marksmanship Techniques. We also had a very special guest in Scott Gosnell, of Lighthorse Tactical, who is an attorney well versed in the Alabama law as it relates to self defense. Scott fielded questions from the class which helped clear up much of the questions and
helped pave the way for the scenario engagements later on in the course. We are very appreciative to Scott for his time and his extensive knowledge of the Alabama State Law as it pertains to engagements like this. His presentation really added to the Practical Application of the AR Carbine.
The afternoon took us to the range where we began our static fire engagements from the front, left, right and rear, focusing on consistent movement and target identification. Our targets utilize separate shapes, colors, and words that force the student to differentiate between the targets in a timely manner. We also began to utilize a covered position to change magazines and fix malfunctions. We had a wide array of experience and skill levels in the course but by the end of the day, everyone was moving and working as a unit, forming the consistent muscle memory movements necessary during times of duress. The mind will instinctively shut off in times of stress and we want to train the body to react until the mind can essentially catch up with it. Keeping the mind active in the means of correct target identification, while building the proper fundamentally sound movements, is our method of creating consistent muscle memory.
Day 2: Dynamic Movement/Use of Cover
Day 2 took us to a more dynamic movement on the range, working with moving forward to engage threats, engaging threats from the rear while moving, moving from covered positions while utilizing alternate firing positions, and Scenario #1. All of our movement drills are taken from the real world which does not have a specific amount of space to work in or a proper time to change a magazine/fix a malfunction. We stress this fact because it always seems that even with all of the prior planning and fantastic equipment; the little things always go wrong which cause problems for the big things. This is why a good foundation in the fundamentals of use of cover, and proper movement/marksmanship techniques is critical to success. The mind will always revert back to these fundamentals when the plan goes by the wayside.
Our scenarios change from course to course, depending on current events. All of our scenarios come out of the current news, based on actual threats that others had recently faced. This way we focus on what is plausibly capable of happening, instead of something out of our heads. It also hits home to our students and brings them outside of their comfort zones, which is a fragile false sense of security anyways. Scenario #1 focused on a home invasion where the closest firearm available was the rifle. This specific scenario focused on the use of cover, along with the possible legal ramifications of a threat engagement like this. Even though there were specific threat targets with specific items, our instructors focus other possibilities not specifically in this scenario, such as actions with no weapon present. Again, the purpose is to get the student to consider a wide array of possible threats.
Day 3: Capabilities/Final Scenario Engagements
Day 3 took us to the Capabilities Engagements portion of the training, along with the final two scenarios. We spent the morning engaging targets out to 300 yards and utilized the prone position for this exercise. We work in a progressive manner and every position/threat engagement leads to a scenario application for the real world. The Capabilities Engagements were no different. We then moved into Scenario #2, which took the engagements outside of the home to vehicles that focused on escalation of force, use of cover, proper movement techniques, and target identification. The goal for this Scenario was to never take for granted what is perceived by the eye and to not give up a covered position so quickly. After each Scenario, we meet together as a class and go over each individual threat engagement and outcome to help give everyone a different perspective and thought process.
We finished the course with our Scenario #3, which highlights a diminished rule of law after a natural disaster. The purpose of the Scenario was to incorporate all aspects of the training, while putting the student under duress. The instructors moved with each individual student over 200 yards of various threat targets, movement techniques, use of cover and proper marksmanship techniques. Threat targets ranged from 15 – 300 yards from all alternate firing positions. Upon completion of the course of fire, the students were hot and tired but walked away with a different perspective for a defensive utilization of the AR Carbine Platform. This is the most important thing. These courses are fun and informative, but our purpose is to instill a different training perspective that we hope our students will continue upon completion of our courses.
We had a wide variety of rifles and equipment in the course and did not have a major malfunction, minus one broken extractor. Thankfully, the student had a second rifle with him and it did not interrupt his training. This gave a different perspective on equipment, to include how the rifle interacts with ammunition. This student had PMC and Wolf Manufactured Ammunition but had similar malfunctions with both which led one to focus on the rifle as the root cause. Some rifle manufacturers will focus more on tighter tolerances to increase overall accuracy. The reality of this standpoint will cause more issues due to an increase in malfunctions and will take away from the overall platform. There are several different factors that influence this, but when there are tighter chamber tolerances that come into contact with different grades of ammunition/smokeless powder used, along with excessive oil on the Bolt Carrier Group, the possibility for increase malfunctions drastically increase. In this instance, a steel case eventually led to a broken extractor due to a failure to extract. This was more than likely because of excess oil in the chamber area, which increases overall chamber pressure and also creates a “tacky” film in the chamber, but the tolerances for this particular platform should be such that it takes this into account. But overall, the rifles functioned well despite of the heat, humidity, and dynamic movement on the range.
In conclusion, competition is a great, great way to keep fundamentals and a positive defensive mindset – we are not disputing or taking away from this – but it can easily become a game. Train for all aspects of threat engagements and take the mind outside of the gaming box. Everything comes down to that one moment where we may have to utilize these skills – we all hope this never happens but there is a distinct possibility. What happens in this very brief moment of time will affect the responder in many different ways, for the rest of their lives. We hope that each of our students continue with this style of training and continue to work their fundamentals of marksmanship, movement techniques, target identification, and use of cover. Training never stops and we work with such a perishable skill. We are now a much more responsible gun owner because we know how the rifle/ammunition operate, the capabilities of each, the proper defensive mindset, and the legal consequences to our actions.
Everyone who attended the course did a fantastic job. It was great to get to know each one of you and we hope to see you again sometime in the future. As always, we are available anytime for any questions. We wish you well on all of your future endeavors.
A big thanks to Janie Shelswell-White for the great pictures and video! We hope to see more from her in the future.